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3 Holiday Email Campaign Ideas

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!

The holidays are on us and you and your inbox are about to get STUFFED. (Get it!? Like a turkey!) Sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself.

Instead of begging the Google gods for inspiration, I thought I’d throw you some ideas on how to celebrate the season in your customers’ inbox.

I’ve seen RESULTS with these campaigns during the email cluttered season of SHOPPING, EATING and GIVING.

You’ve already designed, written and schedule all your holiday campaigns, right!?

HAHAHAHA

If you’re like most lean companies, you probably have a rough outline but haven’t quite gotten to building those emails.

Don’t worry about it. You have PLENTY of time.

And with these ideas, you’ll have a fresh new twist to add to your copy or design.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Holiday Email Campaign Idea 1:
Show Some Gratitude on Thanksgiving

What are people doing on Thanksgiving day outside of the 30 minutes they spend at the dinner table mashing green bean casserole into their faces while trying to ignore Uncle Mike’s one billionth rant about KIDS THESE DAYS?

(Also, let’s face it. The sides of any Thanksgiving meal are usually the best. Give me green bean casserole, stuffing and mashed potatoes any day over turkey. CONTROVERSIAL!)

As maddening as it is, you are gonna be on your phone trying to avoid eye contact with Aunt Cheryl who’s already had one too many glasses of wine and LOVES to ask you questions about what it is you actually do while pretending to know what digital marketing means.

You are not alone.

It’s AWKWARD. And people will be doing everything they can to alleviate that stress.

What are they going to be doing on their phones?

Checking the social media and guess what else? THEIR EMAILS!

You are GOING to have their attention on Thanksgiving.

Use this time to show your email subscribers some gratitude.

  • Tell them what their support has meant for your business this year or the people/customers you serve.
  • Tell a story about something that was a big win for a customer or client of yours.
  • Tell them a story about a big win for your business this year.
  • Tell them that THEY are part of your success.
  • Tell them why they should care about your business.

Don’t expect them to remember every detail of your brand story. Give them a reason to remember you. Make sure they know how important they are to your business.

Holiday Email Campaign Idea 2:
Make Black Friday/Cyber Monday Your Own

Every offer over the weekend after Thanksgiving is going to be about Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Do you know what OTHER BUSINESSES are going to be emailing about?

BLACK FRIDAY!

CYBER MONDAY!

DEALS! DEALS! DEALS!

They’re doing it because people are looking for deals. But when you start using the same language as everyone else, they’re going to start comparing your deal or offer to everyone else’s.

How do you make it different?

Brand it or Skip it.

Tell people why you’re skipping out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday if you’re not doing anything around it.

OR

Name it your own thing.

How can you riff on it?

Any fun puns that go along with your brand?

Is there another color that aligns with your brand other than black? Or is black a core brand identity for you?

Play with it. People will see you stand out among EVERY subject line that will read “Black Friday”.

Holiday Email Campaign Idea 3:
Giving Tuesday

The nonprofit world lives off of Giving Tuesday. (The day after Cyber Monday).

It’s a day that nonprofits can make an explicit call for donations.

Does a part of your annual sales go to giving back to your community or a cause your business supports?

Shout it out!

Is Giving Tuesday an opportunity to donate a percentage of your sales from THAT DAY ONLY to a cause that aligns with your brand and customers?

Use it as an opportunity to boost brand loyalty by showing that you care about something beautiful in this world.

Best Alternatives to Mailchimp

It’s not secret that I dislike Mailchimp. Talk to me for 5 minutes and I’ll tell you why.

We don’t have five minutes, so I’ll go ahead and jump right in.

1. The templates ARE NOT flexible.
You are at the mercy of their templates every time you design an email.

Want to have a row of 3 images instead of 2? Oh, no big deal, then you’re gonna need to redesign that email in a totally different template.

Yes, seriously.

I have been here and HATED it.

 

2. The automations aren’t super great either.
Want an email automation that actually DOES what you want it to? Prepare yourself for hours of hacking your way through alternative routes to get it done.

(and don’t get me started on their segments)

 

3. Only ONE form per list.
If you have multiple forms that you want to custom tag your audience so that they all go on the same list, forget about it. You only get one FORM.

Many other email service providers provide you with limitless forms that all can go to one list.

BEST ALTERNATIVES TO MAILCHIMP:

TOP RECOMMENDATION:
Plain and simple, ActiveCampaign will get you the biggest bang for your buck.

You can segment your audience very easily.
The automations are in an actual visual map instead of a confusing list (*cough* Mailchimp *cough*).

Their email template builder is SUPER flexible.

AND you can track website behavior of your contacts to see what they’re browsing before they buy.

They do not have a free version, but if you’re serious about email marketing for your business, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a tool like ActiveCampaign.

I use it for my own business and have migrated several clients over to it who also love it.

BONUS: They have a tiered package that offers a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) that can help you keep track of your sales pipeline if you’re a service-based business.

BEST FREE VERSION:

Mailerlite

Mailerlite offers visual automation flows and beatuiful, flexible templates.

Their segmentation is robust enough to create personalized experiences for your email subscribers.

AND their automation is a beautiful visual flow that is incredibly user friendly and gives you options for creating truly optimized automation strategies.

BEST FOR ECOMMERCE:

Klaviyo

If you’re selling products online, Klaviyo is incredible!

I’ve worked in top dollar Email Service Providers that can’t do what Klaviyo does.

It harvests your customers’ purchasing data and can predict when they will order next. It’s so cool!

It integrates with most retail and e-commerce platforms.

For real, if you’re planning to sell products online (or at a brick-and-mortar store) check it out.

***full disclosure: I am an affiliate for all of these services. I receive a small commission for anyone who signs up for these services through the links above.

Something is better than nothing

Last week, I was on a call for with the Beta group of my course Email Marketing Like a Boss. We were talking about that week’s lesson on planning content.

As we were chatting about a very common and natural fear of putting content and creative work out into the digital world, I remembered the advice I give everyone when they go through a workshop with me.

Something is better than nothing.

Let me say that again.

Something is better than nothing.

For all of my perfectionist friends, this might resonate with you more than anything.

When you’re paralyzed with sheer overwhelm of all of the possibilities of offers and programs and content you’re putting out there.

When you’re trying to find the exact right word for the feeling you want to convey or the pain point your customer is experience.

When you’re making yet another tweak to that design or photo filter.

When you’re about to hit the send button on that email but your finger pauses over your mouse or just above your smartphone screen.

It’s doubt creeping in.

Fear that no one will respond to your offer or content.

Fear that someone will catch you playing the expert.

Fear that someone will read your words and wonder how you’ve managed to get this far in the world.

Fear that someone will see your design and wrinkle their nose at the imperfect alignment of your fonts.

I hear you.

I see you.

I am you.

That’s why I repeat it over and over again.

Something is better than nothing.

When you get trapped into that perfectionist loop, you get paralyzed.

And what inevitably happens? You close your eyes and click send (and the world doesn’t crumble) OR you frantically hit the backspace key to delete every word you just poured over.

When you give in to that fear. You don’t even try.

You don’t even try to fail.

And the failure is the good stuff. Those are the tough lessons that teach us what to try next or what to tweak.

And with everything you send or schedule, you get a little bit more confident. You get a little bit more sure of what you’re doing. You find one more thing to improve on the next time.

Your first try is not going to be as pretty as you’d like it to be.

You gotta let that go.

Just do something. Anything. Let yourself fail and try again.

That’s how you put creative work (like emails) out into the world and connect and get better.

If you need someone to cheer you on, I’m here.

Emily

How to get your emails out of the SPAM folder

This is the question I get most often. How do you make sure your emails don’t end up in the SPAM folder?
I answer it often enough that I made a video for you!
Check it out. It’s only 4 minutes long with this mug talkin all of the good info at you.

On Email Marketing Best Practices (a.k.a why they’re wrong)

I was recently asked about whether or not I could follow email marketing best practices for a new client.

I paused.

My first thought, “Wait… whaaaaaaaat?”

That’s such a vague term for any industry or field. Best practices are one of those buzz words that people throw around to see if you know what you’re talking about AND/OR to ask what the hell they should be doing.

And I think that last part is at the root of it.

When we’re trying to figure out a new field that we don’t have a lot of experience with, what’s the first thing you google? I know back in the day, I googled “email marketing best practices” when I was trying to figure out what I was doing.

I followed them as best as I could at my first job doing email.

But guess what I found out at my next job as an email marketer? To throw most of what I had learned out of the window.

It was an unconventional company doing marketing their way. There were some hard lessons learned but also some really incredible insight as well.

The most powerful lesson: best practices are what’s best for you, your business, and your audience.

I know that’s not a hard and fast answer, but it is very freeing. It gives you permission to find what works best for you.


I get a lot of questions from people about what they consider to be best practices: open rates, how many sends, etc.

Here’s the top 2:

1 | What’s a good open rate, clickthrough rate, conversion rate?

Answer: It depends. There are industry benchmarks to help you see how far behind or ahead you are of your competitors.

The truth is your open rate can vary widely. It depends on how you are segmenting your audience, how you collected your email addresses and who you decide should and should not stay on your email list.

Seriously. It varies so widely it’s hard to find a good benchmark.

My advice: find an average of your sends over the past 3 months. That’s your benchmark. See how you can move the needle from there.

2 | How many emails should I send per week/month?

Answer: It depends. Who is your audience? How many emails can you reasonable put together that are of quality and relatively error free?

Some brands’ audiences have a higher tolerance for more emails. Some do not.

You have to ask yourself – when do you get the hint that your subscribers are sick of hearing from you and how much is an unsubscribe worth to you?

Every email you send is an opportunity for someone to unsubscribe. Sending an email a day means you’re losing people from your list every day.

On the flip side, that is potential revenue.

What is each subscriber worth to you?


Ultimately, best practices are what are best for your business, your goals and your resources.

Finding out that perfect balance is the hard part.

That’s where testing really helps (more on that in an upcoming post).

If you’re in that boat, trying to figure out this whole email thing, I’m here to tell you that you’ve got this.

It’s all a learning process. Keep searching out information, ask for help and take some risks. You might stumble on something unexpected and delightful.

Not sure where to begin? Try here.